Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The G String

This is an advert by guitar maker Gibson advertising one of their 'Flying V' models. There is an obvious striking message in this advert and the lack of text and information about the product makes this message stronger. The advert makes a direct comparison between the body shape of the guitar and a woman standing with her legs open, this makes us directly associate the two images, taking the striking attractive qualities of the woman's legs and ascribing them to the guitar. The advertiser wants us to believe that these are qualities that we will gain on purchasing the guitar. This technique of association has been shown in a study by Smith and Engel (1968) found that men who saw a car with a good looking female next to it rated the car more highly in many respects, as this advert is obviously targeting men, the same sort of association is going on here. This association is also used by the advertiser to show what can be gained by the product, namely, girls. By the association with the girl's shapely open legs the guitar is also presented as something that will make you sexy, something that will make you more attractive. This advert also employs the technique of not drawing any sort of clear conclusion to the message, by keeping it bare and simple it makes the advert more striking. This technique has been shown to be effective in situations where the message is personally relevant in research by Sawyer and Howard (1991), and the chances are if you are viewing this advert it will be personally relevant to you as it is such a specific audience the advert is for. The only piece of text in the advert reads 'Don't be shy'. This is a brilliant way of challenging the audience and making them feel inadequate without the guitar. Men don't want to be seen as shy or unconfident especially in front of an attractive woman, so this advert uses the technique of embarrassing the target of influence to gain compliance. As shown by Apsler (1975), embarrassment creates a need to restore self image and the guitar is presented as a way of doing this. So the brevity, attractiveness and challenging nature of this advert present the model of guitar as something desirable, sexy and something you have to earn to play, if you are good enough you won't be shy.
Toby Watson
References Apsler, R. (1975). Effects of embarrassment on behaviour towards others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 145-153. Sawyer, A. G., & Howard, D. J. (1991). Effects of omitting conclusions in advertisements to involved and uninvolved audiences. Journal of Marketing Research, 467-474. Smith, G. H., & Engel, R. (1968). Influence of a female model on perceived characteristics of an automobile. In Proceedings of the 76th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (Vol. 3, pp. 681-682).

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